Tuition Freezes, Tuition Cuts and Level Tuition
This page lists colleges that have cut tuition rates instead of
increasing them. It also lists colleges that have implemented
temporary tuition freezes and colleges that have implemented level
tuition rates. (A level tuition rate freezes the tuition rate for
continuing students, but increases it for each successive incoming
class. Thus each student has the same tuition rate for all four years.)
A handful of schools have cut their tuition rates instead of
increasing them. The resulting publicity generates increases in
enrollment which can compensate for the lost tuition revenue. In
addition, such cuts are usually accompanied by cuts in financial
aid. (Typically, colleges recycle approximately 25% of tuition revenue
in the form of financial aid.) The cuts are one-time events, with the
school returning to annual tuition increases in subsequent years.
For example, Bethany College of West Virginia cut its tuition in
2002-2003 by 42% from $20,650 to $12,000, thereby attracting 60% more
freshmen and increasing total campus enrollment by 13% to 875
students. Financial aid was also cut by 43%.
For a school to pursue such a strategy, the tuition cut needs to be
phased in gradually (i.e., it applies to new students only, with the
old tuition rates being phased out as existing students graduate). The
school must have significant excess capacity, be not very well known,
and draw its student population primarily from a limited geographic
region surrounding the school.
A key risk faced by colleges that slash
tuition rates is the public perception that the tuition cut is
accompanied by a reduction in institutional quality. This is partly
due to the perception that higher priced institutions are somehow
better. The risk can be mitigated through careful management of the
publicity accompanying a rate cut.
The schools which have instituted such cuts include:
||Year of Cut
||Amount of Cut
|Harrison College (Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Online)
Limited to 9 programs
|Winter Term 2013
|Concordia University (St. Paul, MN)
|Burlington College (Burlingon, VT)
|Cabrini College (Radnor, PA)
|Lincoln College (Illinois)
|Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ)
High achieving students only.
|University of Charleston
|William Peace University (Raleigh, NC)
|The University of the South (Sewanee)
|Penn Foster College
|South Dakota Colleges
Just out-of-state tuition
|North Park University (IL)
|Eureka College (IL)
|Abilene Christian University (TX)
Just the Department of Education's Educational Administration Master's Program
|Albertson College (ID)
|Westminster College (MO)
|Heidelberg College (OH)
|Bethany College (WV)
|University of Virginia (VA)
|College of William & Mary (VA)
|Marlboro College (VT)
|Wells College (NY)
|Bluefield College (VA)
|Pine Manor College (MA)
|Sheldon Jackson College (AK)
|Thiel College (PA)
|Muskingum College (OH)
|North Carolina Wesleyan College (NC)
|Waldorf College (IA)
Duquesne University cut tuition and fees in half for new freshmen
enrolling in the school of education in fall 2012. The discount will
continue for the four years of the program.
Other schools have instituted tuition freezes. In addition to colleges
who do not increase their tuition rates for one or more years,
there are also colleges who lock in a student's tuition rates for all
four years but do increase rates for each successive incoming class.
In general, tuition freezes are more common among community colleges
and public colleges than among private four year colleges.
Usually a tuition freeze requires continuous full-time enrollment. If
the student takes a leave of absence or drops below full-time, their
tuition relocks at the rate then in effect.
Note that some colleges work around state-mandated tuition freezes by
instituting fee increases.
Examples of temporary tuition freezes include (sorted alphabetically):
- AIB College of Business (Des Moines) for 2008-2009.
- Albany Law School of Union University for 2009-2010.
- Alderson Broaddus College (Philippi, WV) for 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.
- Ancilla College (Donaldson, IN) for 2012-2013.
- Arkansas State University for 2009-2010.
- Ava Maria Law School for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
- Becker College (MA) for 2009-2010.
- Benedictine University (Lisle, IL) for 2009-2010 (and for 2010-2011 for freshmen entering 2009-2010).
- Bennington College in 1996.
- British Columbia, Canada. Tuition rates at public colleges in British Columbia, Canada, were frozen by the government from 1995 through 2002.
- Brookdale Community College (NJ) for 2011-2012.
- Burlington College (Burlington, VT) for 2012-2013 with a four-year lock.
- Capitol College (Laurel, Maryland) for 2008-2009.
- Central Oregon Community College for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.
- Cincinnati Christian University for graduate students for 2009-2010.
- Cincinnati State Technical and Community College for 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.
- Clark State Community College for 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.
- College of New Rochelle in New York in 1996.
- Colleges in Nova Scotia, Canada, for 2008-2009 through 2010-2011 (three years).
- Columbus State Community College for 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
- Community colleges in Essex, Hudson, Union and Warren counties in New Jersey for 2004-2005.
- Culver Stockton College (Canton, MO) for 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
- Dutchess Community College for 2010-2011.
- Eastern Michigan University for 2010-2011. No increase in tuition, fees, room and board.
- Elgin Community College for 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011
- Flathead Valley Community College for in-district students for 2009-2010.
- Franklin Pierce University for 2010-2011 and 2012-2013.
- Freed-Hardeman University for 2007-2008.
- Goodwin College (East Hartford, CT) for 2012-2013.
- Grand Canyon University, Camelback Road campus, for 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012.
- Guilford College in North Carolina in 1996.
- Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, TX) for 2012-2013 for the incoming freshman class only, with a lock.
- Harrisburg University for 2013-2014.
- Hiram College for 2006-2007, 2010-2011.
- Houghton College for 1998.
- Ivy Tech State College in Indianapolis froze tuition for 2001-2002.
- Ivy Tech Community College for veterans, members of the National Guard and state government employees for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
- Johnson C. Smith University for 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. (Last time was in 1974-1975.)
- Kansas Board of Regents for Kansas residents for 2009-2010.
- Kansas Wesleyan University for 1998.
- Langston University for 2009-2010.
- Liberty University Online for 2009-2010.
- Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, TN) for 2009-2010.
- Maine Community Colleges for 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2010-2011.
- Marlboro College in Vermont from 1998 to 2002.
- McNally Smith College of Music (St. Paul, MN) for 2011-2012 (for year-round students only)
- Memorial University for 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011.
- Merrimack College (North Andover, MA) for 2009-2010.
- Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, NY) for 2013-2014.
- Mils College in California from 1993 through 1995.
- Minneapolis College of Art and Design for 2010-2011.
- Missouri 2-year and 4-year Public Colleges for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
- Montana 2-year college of technology schools for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
- Montreat College for 2012-2013.
- Mount Holyoke College for 2012-2013.
- New Brunswick, Canada, for 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. (New Brunswick community colleges since 2006-2007.)
- New Hampshire Community Colleges for 2008-2009. (Seven community colleges, with campuses in Concord, Laconia, Littleton, Manchester, Nashua, Claremont, Berlin, Keene, Woodsville, Stratham, Conway and Portsmouth.)
- Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) for 2009-2010.
- Nova Scotia Community College for 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
- Oakland City University for 2009-2010.
- Oak Hills Christian College (Bemidji, MN) for 2012-2013.
- Ocean County College for 2009-2010.
- Ohio State University for state residents for 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.
- Oklahoma City Community College for 2009-2010.
- Oklahoma State University for 2009-2010.
- Oklahoma University for 2010-2011 (but with fee increases).
- Ontario, Canada government for all Ontario colleges for 2004-2005 and 2005-2006.
- Oregon public colleges from 1997 to 1999.
- Princeton University for 2007-2008.
- Rocky Mountain College (Calgary, Canada) for 2006-2007.
- Rogert Williams University (Bristol, RI) for 2013-2014.
- Russell Sage College (Troy, NY) for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
- Sage College (Albany, NY) for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
- Seminole State College for 2009-2010.
- Siena Heights University (Lansing, MI) for 2008-2009.
- Southern Illinois University for 2010-2011.
- Southern New Hampshire University for 2010-2011.
- Southern State Community College for 2010-2011.
- State University of New York and the City University of New York, did not increase tuition rates from 1995 through 2002.
- Tabor University (Wichita, KS) for 2012-2013.
- Texas Tech University for 2008-2009.
- Thomas Aquinas College for 2010-2011.
- Thomas College (Waterville, ME) for 2012-2013.
- Three Rivers Community College for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
- University of Akron (OH) for 2009-2010.
- University of Central Oklahoma for 2009-2010.
- University of Maryland system for 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. (Just tuition for in-state undergraduate students. Tuition for out-of-state and graduate students will still increase, as will fees for all students.)
- University of Missouri for 2010-2011.
- University of North Carolina for 2003-2004.
- University of North Texas at Dallas for 2008-2009.
- University of Oklahoma for 2009-2010.
- University of Toledo for 2009-2010.
- University of Tulsa from 1996 through 1998.
- University of Wisconsin, for students with family income under $60,000, for 2009-2010. Also, all two-year colleges in the University of Wisconsin system for 2007-2008 through 2010-2011.
- Urbana University for 2012-2013 (includes room and board in addition to tuition).
- Virginia Wesleyan College for 1998.
- West Virginia Public Community and Technical Colleges including West Virginia University for 2010-2011 (in-state undergraduate students only).
- West Virginia Wesleyan College for 2006-2007 and 2009-2010.
- Westminster College for 2012-2013.
- Wheeling Jesuit University for 2009-2010.
- William Jessup University for 2010-2011.
- Williams College in Massachusetts froze tuition for 2000-2001.
- Wilson College (Chambersburg, PA) for 2012-2013.
- Wright State University (Ohio) for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.
- York University (Canada) for 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 for some graduate programs.
Level Tuition Rates
Examples of level tuition rates (also known as tuition locks, tuition
guarantees, guaranteed tuition rates, guaranteed tuition plans, stable
tuition, block tuition, and fixed tuition rates) include:
- University of Dayton (Ohio), starting in 2013-14, for up to four years. The university will be locking in the net tuition (tuition minus gift aid), as opposed to just tuition, which should yield more predictability for families.
- Rogert Williams University (Bristol, RI), starting in 2013-14, for up to four years.
- Indiana University, starting in 2013-14, for juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate in four years.
- University of Phoenix for 2012-13 for up to 5-9 years, depending on degree level.
- Burlington College for incoming and returning students in 2012-2013 for four years.
- Roosevelt University (Chicago, IL) starting in 2012-2013 for four years.
- University of the South (Sewanee) for freshmen entering in 2012-2013. Followed a 10% tuition cut in 2011-2012.
- Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana. (Started 2010-2011.)
Tuition remains fixed for students continuously enrolled in a four-year degree
program until they graduate.
- Harrison College (Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Online), starting in 2007-08.
- University of Texas at Dallas. (Started 2007-2008.) Tuition
rates fixed for four years for new students. The tuition guarantee
also applies to students enrolling in participating two-year schools.
- University of Texas at El Paso. (Started 2007-2008.) Tuition rates are fixed for for years for new students.
- Georgia public research colleges. (Started 2006-2007.) Tuition rates fixed for four years for new students.
- Central Michigan University. (2005-2006 through 2007-2008.) Tuition, fees,
room and board are locked in for up to five years for new and transfer
- Oklahoma City University for 2006-2007. Students may elect to pay
a fixed tuition rate for all four years. The amount paid during the
freshman year is higher than normal tuition rates, but then is not
subject to annual inflationary adjustments.
- Merrimack College (MA) for 2006-2007.
- Henry Ford Community College. Rebates tuition increases for
students who graduate within four years.
- Berkeley College in New York and New Jersey. Tuition is frozen at
the rate in effect during their initial enrollment, so long as they
maintain continuous full-time student status. If the student falls
below full-time and later return to full-time status, the tuition rate
relocks at the rate then in effect. (Started 1975-1976.)
- Pace University in New York. Locks in freshman tuition rate for up
years. (Started 2003-2004.)
- Mesa State College for students who maintain a 3.2 GPA by the end
of their freshman year. (Started 1993-1994.)
- Illinois public colleges. Locks in tuition rates for students for
four or five years, depending on major. (Takes effect starting in 2004-2005.)
Western Illinois University has had an undergraduate tuition guarantee
in effect since 1999-2000 and a graduate tuition guarantee since 2004-2005. Other states, including Indiana, Iowa and Missouri, are
considering similar initiatives.
- Hiram College in Ohio. Locks in freshman tuition rate for four
years. (Started 2004-2005.)
- George Washington University. Locks in freshman tuition rate for
up to five years, and guarantees that institutional aid will not
decrease. (Started 2004-2005.)
- Lake Erie College. Locks in freshman tuition rate for up to five
years. (Started 2004-2005.)
- Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Flat-rate pricing for tuition
for four years. (Started 1997-1998.)
- Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. Locks in freshman
tuition rate for five years.
- Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Locks in the
undergraduate and graduate tuition rate for as long as the student is
making satisfactory progress toward a degree. Since 1992-1993.
- Capitol College (Laurel, Maryland) since 2000.
- Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Locks in freshman
tuition rate starting with the class of 2005.
- Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Locks in
freshman tuition rate and room and board for up to eight
semesters. (Started 2000-2001.)
- University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia. Locks in freshman
tuition rate for four years.
- Urbana University in Urbana, Ohio. Locks in freshman
tuition rate for four years.
- Alaska Pacific University. Locks in freshman tuition rate for up
to five years. (Started 2001-2002.)
- Cleary College. Locks in tuition for undergraduate and graduate
students. (Started 2001-2002.)
- Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, Louisiana. Flat fee
tuition rate since 2001-2002.
- Florida Christian College in Kissimmee, Florida. Locks in freshman
tuition rate for up to five years. (Started 2004-2005.)
- University of Minnesota. The Guaranteed Tuition Plan allows
incoming freshmen to pay a fixed tuition rate for up to five
years. The fixed rate is initially higher than regular tuition
rates. (Started 2004-2005.)
- Vanderbilt University. Locks in freshman
tuition rate for up to four years. (Started 2004-2005.)
- Lackawanna College. (Started 2004-2005.)
- Niagara University. The Level Tuition Plan allows
incoming freshmen to pay a fixed tuition rate for up to four
years. The fixed rate is initially higher than regular tuition
rates. (Started 2004-2005.)
- The Franciscan University, Iowa. Locks in freshman tuition rate for up
to four years. (Started 2004-2005.)
- Florida public colleges. The Florida Board of Governors is
requiring all schools to provide a fixed four-year tuition rate for up
to 30 credits per year. (Started 2005-2006.)
Huntington University had a variation on a level tuition plan, where
families could pay a one-time non-refundable fee of 10% of the current
tuition and lock in current tuition rates for all four years. The Huntington
Plan was in effect from the early 1990s, but ended in 2006 when the
university took other measures to contain costs (e.g., below average
annual tuition increases of 0% to 3%), thereby making the plan less
attractive to families.
In addition, there are a variety of more unusual tuition freezes:
Level tuition rates are increasingly popular because they provide
predictability, making it easier for families to plan for college costs.
Many level tuition rates were implemented after the end of the most
recent recession. It is unclear whether the level tuition rates at
public colleges could survive a recession. Whenever the state
legislature cuts support for higher education -- a common occurrence
during recessions -- public colleges are forced to increase tuition to
compensate. Although public colleges could increase the tuition rates
of the next incoming classes, this limits the colleges ability to
respond to significant funding shortfalls, leading to bigger jumps in
tuition rates. Some colleges that offer level tuition rates build
a buffer into the level tuition rates, providing a contingency fund
that allows them to weather volatility in their funding sources
without needing to implement a spike in successive tuition rates. (To
the extent that level tuition rates represent a contractual
obligation, continuing students do not have to fear that the college
will reneg on their guaranteed tuition rates during times of economic
hardship.) Colleges that don't build in a buffer or build in an
inadequate buffer, however, may be
faced with increasing the tuition rates for incoming students by 20%
or more if they experience a sudden shortfall in funding, since they
can't increase rates for upperclassmen.
Students who think they may transfer from a college that provides a
guaranteed tuition rate should consider their choice of college
carefully, as a guaranteed tuition rate in effect charges them more
during the first two years and less during the last two years than at
a similar quality college that doesn't offer guaranteed tuition
Four-Year Graduation Guarantees
These colleges guarantee that students will graduate in four years or
they'll cover the cost for the additional time it takes to graduate.
- Ashland University for freshmen entering in fall 2012. Guarantee provides for up to an extra year of tuition.
- Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, OH) starting in fall 2012. Guarantee covers the extra cost as long as it takes.
- Jacksonville University (Jacksonville, FL) for freshmen starting in fall 2012.
- Medaille College (Buffalo, NY) for freshmen starting in fall 2012.
- Midland University (Fremont, NE) for freshmen starting in fall 2012.
A related phenomenom is colleges
eliminating loans from the financial
aid packages of low income students.
A handful of colleges offer
free tuition to their undergraduate